This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Role of the Victim-Perpetrator Relationship in the Development of PTSD and Depression Following Sexual Assault




Domino, Jessica

Type of Degree





Victims of sexual assault have a high risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, exposure to sexual assault alone is not sufficient for the development of PTSD. This study examined the impact of victim-perpetrator relationship context (i.e. trust, importance, and closeness), perceived life threat, perceived betrayal, posttraumatic cognitions, and trauma-related social support on PTSD and depression outcomes. One-hundred-twenty-seven female undergraduate students, who self-identified as “having an uncomfortable, negative, or unwanted sexual experience,” completed a self-report battery through an anonymous internet questionnaire session. The victim-perpetrator relationship and aspects of this relationship were not associated with PTSD and depression symptoms. Perceived life threat, perceived betrayal, and posttraumatic cognitions were all related to PTSD symptoms severity. However, results indicated that only perceived life threat, and posttraumatic cognitions about the self were predictive of overall PTSD and depressive symptoms. Implications for understanding the role posttraumatic cognitions play in PTSD and depression outcomes are discussed.